Your scalp is just as important as the rest of your skin, but most people don’t even think about taking care of it unless they have a scalp problem. Proper scalp care can keep your scalp healthy and prevent those problems.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a healthy scalp begins with a healthy lifestyle, according to WebMD . Eating enough protein, as well as enough fruits and vegetables, helps keep your skin as healthy as your insides. Exercise keeps your metabolism up and your blood flowing to your skin, which is a great way to keep it healthy. Limiting your exposure to sun, or wearing a hat, will keep your scalp from getting a sunburn that can cause scalp problems like seborrheic dermatitis, a serious form of dandruff. Another recommendation from WebMD is to use a humidifier if your home is dry, to keep your skin, including your scalp, from overdrying.
Some medications, including lithium, Inderal and other beta blockers, Cardioquin for heart arrhythmia, and some medications for arthritis can also cause skin to dry out. If you take any medications, ask your doctor about side effects, and ask about a substitute medication if one of your prescriptions can cause skin, and scalp, problems.
Articles in both Men’s Fitness magazine and SkinCareBeautyZone.com include more common-sense ways to keep your scalp healthy. Among the best of them are these:
Find Your Shampooing Balance
Too-frequent shampooing can remove natural oils, causing dry skin, which can lead to excessive scalp skin shedding, also known as dandruff. On the other hand, if you don’t shampoo often enough, the resulting oils can clog hair follicles and lead to seborrheic dermatitis. For a healthy scalp, wash your hair at least every other day and use a mild shampoo. Also, use your knuckles, not your nails, to massage the shampoo over your scalp. If you have dandruff, use a shampoo like Head & Shoulders that has zinc pyrithione (ZPT) as an active ingredient.
Stick to a Healthy Diet
Reduce your consumption of fats, sugar, and salt and alcohol. All of these can lead to poor skin conditions, including scalp conditions.
Believe it or not, stress can cause scalp problems. Stress causes your body to produce too much cortisol, a substance that reduces your immune system’s ability to respond to yeast or other organisms that can cause
irritation of your scalp.
Turn Down the Heat
Hot water may feel good after a hard workout or a long day, but it can hurt your scalp. Use lukewarm to cool water when you rinse. If you use a blow-drier to dry your hair, stick to the lowest setting and use a diffuser so the heat on your scalp is less intense and less likely to dry it out. Better yet, towel- or air-dry your hair.
To Brush or Not to Brush
Brushing can loosen the dead skin cells on your scalp that may be clogging your pores. But if your scalp is dry, cut out the brushing and use a wide-toothed comb or your fingers. You can give your scalp a massage at the same time, increasing the blood flow to the scalp skin to keep it healthier. If you have thinning hair, gently brush your hair to prevent breakage and further hair loss.
The bottom line is simple: To keep a healthy scalp, treat it like you do the rest of your skin. Keep it clean and moisturized, don’t over-dry it or irritate it with sharp objects like fingernails or rough brushes, and live a healthier lifestyle, and your scalp will be healthy, too.